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Q&A: Sunderland vs Wigan Athletic

SUNDERLAND ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Sunderland fans celebrate their goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on January 16 2011 in Sunderland England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
SUNDERLAND ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Sunderland fans celebrate their goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on January 16 2011 in Sunderland England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Simon Walsh from Roker Report nipped by this week to just give us a view from the Sunderland perspective ahead of this weekends game. It shows just how Steve Bruce where ever he goes, seems to be hated or unliked. Wonder why that is Bruce?

So armed with Balti pies (aparently the best pie around), I fired my round of questions.

How did you feel about who you got in the summer transfer market, consider you are like ‘shopping at Harrods’ (no offence to any Sunderland fan, that is a dig at Steve Bruce), where you happy with signing the two ex-united players in O’Shea and Brown?

Ha, don’t worry about the jibe, we’ve brought it up enough times when things go awry. As for the signings of O’Shea and Brown, we’ve been delighted with them, although neither has worked out as expected... O’Shea we thought would be the rock of our defence, and Brown a decent player but often injured. Turns out it’s been the other way round.

Being without three of your top strikers from last season (Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan), how do you feel you are doing in the attacking department?

We’re light, very light. Connor Wickham’s great, but now injured until New Year and Ji Dong-Won seems a decent player, but is struggling to adapt to the pace of the Premier League. We had just found our rhythm in attack with Bendtner, Sessegnon and Wickham all playing, but that’s gone out the window with young Connor’s injury and we’re kind of back to square one. Many expect young Ryan Noble to be given a start soon, he’s very raw, but the closest we have in style to Wickham.

How have you found Steve Bruce as a manger? Has he lived up to what you wanted, maybe even exceeded what you hoped?

When he was first appointed I thought it was a good one, but I think when he goes we’ll look back on the whole Bruce-era feeling underwhelmed. At times there was so much promise and cause to be optimistic, but it just hasn’t happened. Something always goes wrong be it a player leaves or he suddenly decides to change things. There’s certainly something wrong with him, but he can’t seem to admit his own mistakes.

Would you like to see a change in management if things don’t change for you soon?

Yes, no questions asked. We’ve just entered a period of games where we thought we could get some points. With all due respect, Fulham, Wigan, Wolves, Blackburn all back to back, and three of which at home, 9 points should have been a minimum, but we’ve already fallen at the first hurdle and Bruce is on borrowed time with many fans.

Where did you think you would be by this time of the season? Are you doing worse than you thought?

We’re doing worse. Now, Steve Bruce has prattled on about expectations and they’re too much etc... I don’t know who he’s been listening to, but all we ever wanted this season was to be in the Top Ten. Could be 9th, could be 6th... not really fussed, just wanted to establish ourselves a bit. It’s hardly an unrealistic expectation given the money spent and calibre of player brought in. At the moment that seems a long way away, and we’re well below where we thought we might be.

How do you feel this weekend’s game will pan out? Who are the key battles you see?

I think it’s going to be a slog. I don’t think Wigan are an incredible side to watch, and in fairness we’re not exactly a riveting watch. I think it’ll be one of them games where one moment of genius could swing things either way.

As for battles on the pitch, a big one for me will be to see how Nicklas Bendtner does. Without Wickham by his side against Fulham he dropped deep leaving us with nobody up front, so I’d like to see him hassling the Wigan backline rather than making it easy for them.

From the Wigan side, Victor Moses could be a tricky customer if Phil Bardsley is in at left-back again (I hope he isn’t), whilst that Diame fella seems to love scoring against us.

Who out of the current Wigan squad would you most like to have?

James McCarthy seems a very useful player, but I’m not sure what we’d do with him. The thought of having Sessegnon and Moses on the wings would be quite exciting, whilst Figueroa is a left back, and we don’t have one so he’d slot straight in.

Finally, what is your favourite flavour Pie?

Balti. No contest.